When Can I Trim a Kitten’s Nails

Orange and white kitten

Kittens are enthusiastic and always looking forward to experimenting with as many things as possible, so they might accidentally think that scratching is a behavior that everyone can accept as long as they are playing.

But as any cat parent knows, cats can inflict some serious damage on people not only with their teeth but also with their claws. In today’s article, we’re looking at what the right time for trimming your kitten’s nails is and also giving you some safety guidelines.

When is it safe to trim a kitten’s nails?

Everyone recommends trimming a cat’s nails once every two to three weeks (or even earlier), so the best way of going about things when it comes to kittens is to wait for a couple of weeks until they’re a little independent.

When they are born, kittens are mostly dependent on their mothers. It is also not recommended for you to be touching them or the area where the mother cat is nesting (not too often, anyway) so as not to affect their smell and potentially alienate the mother from her offspring.

Even when they are two weeks of age, and they start becoming feisty or playful, if your kittens start scratching you, just leave them be.

First of all, most clippers available for sale these days aren’t really designed for kittens or puppies, so handling them can be challenging. Using a large nail clipper can result in all sorts of injuries, including accidentally cutting a small part of your kitten’s paw pads (also known as toe beans). And that is not an injury you may want to be treating at this age.

In other words, the best piece of advice that we have for you is to wait until the kittens are at least three weeks old.

Trimming a cat’s claws the right way

A kitten needs to be entirely comfortable before you decide to trim their nails. If your pet is feeling agitated for any reason, whether because they’re having the zoomies or something else, things will not go well.

Try to accustom your kitten to laying on their back from when they are very young. You could associate the experience with you giving them a treat or two. Cats are less reluctant to change their position or put up a fight if they trust you and know that you are going to reward them.

If you’ve had cats before, you know that their nails are actually hidden (or retracted), so you will have to use one of your fingers to press on the paw pads or toes to reveal them.

If the kitten is still small, you can use a baby nail clipper (made for humans).

For most kittens, the process is painless and quick enough for everyone involved. Make sure to reward your pet with a delicious snack after you’ve trimmed the nails of each paw, especially if they seem to need more convincing.

Some pet owners believe that they do not have to trim the nails on the feet of their cat’s back legs. It is true that many pets erode those faster because they tend to use them a lot when trying to cover up their poop in the litter box, for example.

Still, they can inflict some amount of damage on your skin if you’re not paying attention. As such, superficial trimming might still be necessary.

How often should you trim a kitten’s nails?

The majority of cats require nail cutting once every two to three weeks. There are some variables depending on how well you’ve completed the procedure the last time around or how fast your pet’s nails actually grow – yes, there are differences from one animal to the next.

Many pet owners prefer trimming their cats’ nails more often rather than going deeper and taking a bigger portion of the claws and, therefore, running the risk of causing a claw hemorrhage.

And while this might be an additional hassle, the fact is that it’s much safer to trim their nails more often but cut a smaller part than to have to cut a big portion of the nail and risk damaging it.

Moreover, once everything’s done, you might see parts of your cat’s claws on your floors here and there. The integrity of the nail is affected by you cutting it, so they might naturally erode faster – therefore making the task of you trimming your pet’s claws less necessary that often.

What to do if things go wrong

There are two main ways in which trimming a kitten’s nails can go wrong. The first would involve you cutting too much of one claw, therefore producing a small hemorrhage at the site. The second would mean you scratching or cutting a part of the paw pad (which we have mentioned in the first part of the article).

In both of these cases, you should make sure that you have some betadine or other type of disinfectant nearby. You can use a cotton pad soaked in betadine to put pressure on the wound for some time. Count to 100 as you are doing so, and then check whether the bleeding has stopped.

If you haven’t produced a serious hemorrhage, the bleeding will stop in 100 or 200 counts. Of course, keeping your kitten restrained during this time can be difficult, especially if they are in pain.

Ask for help if there is another person in the house. If this is your first time trimming your cat’s nails, it won’t hurt to have a helper.

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